Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Mini review: Harry Potter: The Character Vault by Jody Revenson

GoodReads: Unlock new information about your favourite characters from the Harry Potter movies with this definitive coffeetable book profiling the good, the bad, and everything in between within the Harry Potter universe. Dive into the personal journeys of beloved Harry Potter heroes, and an insightful look at the motivations and actions of the films’ most notorious and complicated villains.

Concept art, behind-the-scenes imagery, and film stills track everyone from Harry, Hermione, and Ron to Dobby, Mad-Eye Moody, and Dolores Umbridge, telling their complete stories as they evolve throughout the film series. A comprehensive collection of the movies’ beloved characters, this beautifully designed book is the ultimate Harry Potter character overview. 

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Source: Titan Books

The third in a series by Jody Revenson, 'Harry Potter: The Character Vault' is a great addition to any Potter fan's collection. It's a beautifully illustrated book that you can easily dip in and out of.

The book is split into different sections, for examples there's: Hogwarts students, members of the Order of the Phoenix, Hogwarts staff, etc. For each character you're given what I found to be interesting info such as how the actors came to audition/play the part they did. You're also told about how they came up with costumes/wardrobe designs, which again, I thought was fascinating. Coupled with this there are beautiful illustrations and photographs scattered throughout the book. I also love that at the back of the book there are two pull out posters - one featuring members of the Dark Force and the other featuring members of the Order of the Phoenix.

Overall, it's a stunning book which every time I pick up makes me want to re-read the series and re-watch the movies!


Thursday, 1 October 2015

Illuminae by Jay Kristoff & Amie Kaufman

GoodReads: This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do.

This afternoon, her planet was invaded.

The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than an ice-covered speck at the edge of the universe. Too bad nobody thought to warn the people living on it. With enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to fight their way onto an evacuating fleet, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit.

But their problems are just getting started. A deadly plague has broken out and is mutating, with terrifying results; the fleet's AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a tangled web of data to find the truth, it's clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: the ex-boyfriend she swore she'd never speak to again.

Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents—including emails, schematics, military files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more—Illuminae is the first book in a heart-stopping, high-octane trilogy about lives interrupted, the price of truth, and the courage of everyday heroes.
 Expected publication date: 22/10/15

"Am I not merciful?"

There has only been a small handful of books that have given me that -oh my god I can't put this book down- feeling this year, and Illuminae is one of them. This is the YA sci-fi book I've been waiting for! I loved the action, humour, and general style and layout of the book.

Illuminae is told through interviews, IMs, military files, dairy entries and more - which all make for an interesting read. The format won't work for everyone, imo, but it really worked for me. It had me sucked in from beginning to end. Apart from the fact that they are no longer speaking to one another, for Kady and Ezra it's a typical school day. Things start to go cray, however, when an enemy fleet begins firing down on them. The two are forced to evacuate onto a fleet with the enemy hot on their pursuit. There troubles don't end there though, once on board there are a whole new host of problems. A deadly plague breaks out, the fleets AI (the bits from its perspective were so fascinating!) seems to have taken on a personality of its own, and those in power may be hiding something. So, Kady, not one to sit around and take orders takes matters into her own hands and tries to uncover the truth...

I loved the banter between Kady and Ezra, but I didn't really care for the romance. I honestly would have been happy if they had just been friends, because, hey, we need more platonic relationships. Also, something that made me roll my eyes was the way Kady and Ezra were described. Kady was basically described as being a strong, small, underestimated girl and Ezra as a big jock. I don't know, it just seemed so cliché. Having said that, however, I did like both characters. Although sometimes I was kind of torn with Kady - I loved her need to seek out the truth and do so by any means possible, but at the same time it felt like there was too much effort being put into creating this persona of a snarky and aloof heroine, so much so that she felt a bit like a cardboard cutout.

The writing style really worked for me, I loved the dry humour and thought that the teen voices felt authentic and natural - like the text talk and such didn't feel at all forced.  Overall, the fun layout and interesting plot had me hooked and flying through the pages!


Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

GoodReads: Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price—and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can't pull it off alone...

A convict with a thirst for revenge.

A sharpshooter who can't walk away from a wager.

A runaway with a privileged past.

A spy known as the Wraith.

A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums.

A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes.

Six dangerous outcasts. One impossible heist. Kaz's crew is the only thing that might stand between the world and destruction—if they don't kill each other first.

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Expected publication date: 29/09/15 

I am a big fan of Leigh Bardugo's Grisha trilogy, so as you can imagine when Six of Crows, the first book in the Dregs duology came in the post I was beyond ecstatic!

MULTIPLE POVs. There are six POVs and the thing with having so many perspectives is that sometimes I don't really care for one or more of the characters and I find myself itching to skip ahead. However, that was not the case here as I loved them all. The change of perspectives was done really well, each character had a distinctive voice and back story. So even if their names hadn't been at the top of page I could have easily identified which character I was hearing from.

COMPLEX, MORALLY GREY CHARACTERS. The six main characters aren't wholeheartedly good or bad, I'd say they fall somewhere in between. Living in Ketterdam -a place where you're forced to learn to fend for yourself and make hard decisions if you want survive- has hardened them and made the line between good and bad blurred. The exploration into their morality and their pasts was really interesting, Bardugo did an amazing job of creating fleshed out characters who I easily found myself feeling for. She also managed to bring in her usual banter, wit and humour through her characters which added much needed comic relief to the dark and gritty story.

PLOT & WORLD-BUILDING. The plot was sat at the edge of your seat kind of exciting. I love a high action, guns blazing heist story. My heart was racing throughout and man did I have fun rooting for the main characters. In terms of world building, in the Grisha trilogy there are mentions of Fjerda and Ketterdam, but we don't actually get to explore either culture. In Six of Crows, however, we do, which is interesting because they are quite different from Ravka.

STRONG FEMALE CHARACTERS & FRIENDSHIP. There's just not enough female friendships in YA books, imo. I feel like we see more female rivalry in YA than friendships. Sad to say, but true. So, I was pumped about the one that formed between Inej and Nina. Two empowered females who care and lookout for one another, it really made my heart sing.

SHIPS/ROMANCE. There are three romances developing and simmering, and while all of them are well done there was one in particular that I was shipping hard. The subtle build up and tension, oh my gosh. I need more of these two!  

DIVERSITY. I wish there was more diversity in YA. I mean it's kind of disheartening when you don't see people like yourself represented in literature. However, when there is representation like there is in Six of Crows it makes me so happy - there are PoC characters, LGBT characters, and characters with disabilities!

Six of Crows was everything I imagined it would be and more, an excellent follow up to the Grisha trilogy!


Friday, 21 August 2015

Mini review: Mind Games by Teri Terry

GoodReads: Luna is a no-hoper with a secret: in a world of illusion, she can see what is real. But can she see the truth before it is too late?

Luna has always been able to exist in virtual and real worlds at the same time, a secret she is warned to keep. She hides her ability by being a Refuser: excluded by choice from the virtual spheres others inhabit. But when she is singled out for testing, she can’t hide any longer.

The safest thing to do would be to fail, to go back to a dead-end life, no future. But Luna is starting to hope for something better, and hope is a dangerous thing...

Having enjoyed Teri Terry's Slated trilogy I was looking forward to reading Mind Games. However, I'm sorry to say that I was sourly disappointed.

In my opinion world building is important in dystopian books. I kind of felt a bit disorientated when reading Mind Games, because although there was the occasional explanation I didn't feel like there was enough. I would have liked to know how the world got to where it was, etc.

Having said that, however, I can sometimes let poor world building slide if the plot intrigues me (e.g. Article 5 by Kristen Simmons and The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen). This wasn't the case for Mind Games, though. There were just too many plot holes for me to interested in what was going on. Another reason I couldn't really get into the story is  because I couldn't connect with the main or even secondary characters for that matter. They were a bit dull to be honest, and the romance didn't work for me at all. It was kind of insta-lovey, with the mc falling for the love interest within days of meeting him.

I wasn't a big fan of the ending, either. I don't know, maybe it was my own fault for picking up a book I probably wouldn't have read had I not enjoyed the authors previous books.


Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Ten Books That Celebrate Diversity

I think it's so important that we have diverse books, and have been meaning to write a post on it for a while. Since this weeks Top Ten Tuesday is about diversity I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to do just that!

The following books feature:
  • Ethnically diverse characters 
  • LGBT characters
  • PoC main character
1. Partials by Dan Wells

2. The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot

3. Top Ten Clues You're Clueless by Liz Czukas

4. Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling  

5. Silver Phoenix by Cindy Pon

6. Eon by Alison Goodman 

7. Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff

8. Butterfly Sword by Jeannie Lin

9. The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon

10. Secrets & Sapphires by Leila Rasheed 

Friday, 26 June 2015

Daughter of Dusk by Livia Blackburne

GoodReads: After learning the truth about her bloodlines, Kyra can’t help but feel like a monster.

Though she’s formed a tentative alliance with the Palace, Kyra must keep her identity a secret or risk being hunted like the rest of her Demon Rider kin. Tristam and the imprisoned assassin James are among the few who know about her heritage, but when Tristam reveals a heartbreaking secret of his own, Kyra’s not sure she can trust him. And with James’s fate in the hands of the palace, Kyra fears that he will give her away to save himself.

As tensions rise within Forge's Council, and vicious Demon Rider attacks continue in surrounding villages, Kyra knows she must do something to save her city. But she walks a dangerous line between opposing armies: will she be able to use her link to the Demon Riders for good, or will her Makvani blood prove to be deadly?

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Expected publication date: 04/08/15

Daughter of Dusk picks up where Midnight Thief left off. This book is focused around the rising tensions between Forge's Council and the Demon Riders, as opposed to the previous book which was centered around the Guild vs. Council. Kyra struggles with who she is and who she thinks she'll become if she gives into her Makvani blood line. It also explores the line between good and bad, and how sometimes it's not easy to distinguish between the two.

I was disappointed with the role James played in this book, to me he didn't have enough page time. It kind of felt like he was there for the purpose of Kyra's character development. I really enjoyed the Guild arc in the first book, so I guess I felt let down that there wasn't much exploration into it in Daughter of Dusk.

The romance with Tristam was sweet but not particularly moving. It didn't really make me feel anything, it was just there. I did, however, enjoy the relationship between Flick and Kyra - I've said it many times before and I'll say it again, I love seeing platonic relationships between male and female characters. There needs to be more of them I say. 

In my opinion this would have worked better as a trilogy, because it wouldn't have felt as rushed and the Guild arc of the story could have been explored more. Overall though, despite a few issues here and there it was a satisfying end to the story.


Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Mini review: The Immortal Heights by Sherry Thomas

GoodReads: In a pursuit that has spanned continents, Iolanthe, Titus, and their friends have always managed to remain one step ahead of the forces of Atlantis. But now the Bane, the monstrous tyrant who bestrides the entire mage world, has issued his ultimatum: Titus must hand over Iolanthe, or watch as his entire realm is destroyed in a deadly rampage. Running out of time and options, Iolanthe and Titus must act decisively to deliver a final blow to the Bane, ending his reign of terror for good.

However, getting to the Bane means accomplishing the impossible—finding a way to infiltrate his crypt in the deepest recesses of the most ferociously guarded fortress in Atlantis. And everything is only made more difficult when new prophecies come to light, foretelling a doomed effort....

Iolanthe and Titus will put their love and their lives on the line. But will it be enough?

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Expected publication date: 13/10/15 

The Immortal Heights picks up where The Perilous Sea left off, and follows Iolanthe's and Titus's journey to take down the Bane.

I have to admit that I was kind of bored with the romance. I mean it was nice, but nice is all I can say about it. For me, it just didn't have the same level of swoons as it did in the previous books. No, it was the action that had me flying through the pages of The Immortal Heights. It's action packed right from the start, and at the end of each chapter there's a kind of cliffhanger that begs you to read on... the phrase 'just one more chapter' comes to mind. 

I loved Iolanthe's selflessness and her determination to protect the ones she cares for. Despite not loving the romance in this one I still appreciated her relationship with Titus, it's great seeing a couple who are so open with one another. Titus doesn't hide his fear from her and also knows when to step back and let her take charge. Her relationship with  Master Haywood was also really sweet, I want to see more father/daughter type relationships like this one.

All in all, it was a satisfying conclusion to the trilogy. Book one, however, remains my favourite!


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